Sometimes even our most trusted designers, tired of working alone to execute their singular stylish vision, must put down their sketchpads, look themselves in the mirror, and repeat the immortal words of Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock: It takes two to make a thing go right; it takes two to make it out of sight. And we should all salute them for that.
2016 saw no shortage of notable collaborations between brands and designers we love, from the usual suspects at Supreme and Opening Ceremony finding worthy counterparts in Black Sabbath and Vans, to the unstoppable juggernaut that is Rihanna x Puma. These are the best from the past six months. Somewhere, Rob and E-Z are smiling.
Rihanna x Puma
There were few celebrity collaborations more hyped—or successful—than Rihanna x Puma. The creepers sold out and were being flipped on eBay for more than double retail. It was the same story for the fur slides, which sold out in mere minutes. In fact, Fashionista reported that in the first three months of 2016, Puma’s currency-adjusted sales increased by 7.3 percent to about $937 million—$937 MILLION!—largely thanks to Rihanna and Kylie Jenner. A new collection of Rihanna x Puma creepers dropped on May 26, hitting another home run for the pair. What’s that they say—everything Rihanna touches turns to gold? If they don’t, they should start saying it now. —Karizza Sanchez
Uniqlo x Lemaire
This is the story of a Japanese retail behemoth plucking a quiet, insider-favorite French fashion house from the closets of the most sophisticated shoppers around the world and dropping it nicely in the laps of budget-conscious consumers who want a little more from their fast fashion. Then, they paused to take a breath, and did it all over again. Last fall, the initial wave of Uniqlo x Lemaire goods sold out; this spring, round 2 proved that lightning can strike twice, with an assortment of clean, minimal, ultra-wearable basics that showed off what both Uniqlo and designer Christophe Lemaire both do best. Until you have enough disposable income to fill your wardrobe with Original Flavor Lemaire, stocking up on pieces from this collaboration is not a half-bad place to start. —Steve Dool
Guess Originals x ASAP Rocky
If anyone was going to bring GUESS back, it was going to be A$AP Rocky. This past January, Pretty Flacko released his collaboration with the quintessential ‘90s brand, telling us during an interview that it was all about letting The Youth know “GUESS was actually lit back in the day.” The collection included limited edition men’s and women’s T-shirts, jeans, overalls, and jackets pulled from GUESS’ archive. The partnership was the first of the GUESS Originals initiative, a project that allows creatives to design their modern take on the brand’s classic designs. And, hopefully, it’s not Rocky’s last. —Karizza Sanchez
Supreme x Black Sabbath
Not even Supreme can resist jumping on a trend every time. This year, the streetwear brand threw its horns up in the crowd late March, joining the other labels in their renewed interest in metal. Supreme didn’t just go with any metal brand, though, it went all the way up the ladder to work with Black Sabbath, widely considered to be the greatest metal band of all time.
Supreme and Black Sabbath was basically the last domino to fall in this trend. Kanye West has been playing with metal motifs since Yeezus, Demna Gvasalia of Vetements has been influenced by the genre, and even Justin Bieber beat Supreme to the punch with his own merch designed by Jerry Lorenzo of Fear of God. Kanye + Vetements + Bieber + Supreme = what every hypebeast draws in their notebook like an infatuated schoolgirl. Even with all these factors at play, Supreme was able to avoid looking late by elevating the themes beyond just printing its box logo in a metal font. The result is quality pieces printed with killer artwork at sub-Vetements prices. —Cameron Wolf
Bape x Dragon Ball Z
There’s something about the Bape and Dragon Ball collab that drew people like moths to a Goku Ki Blast. Maybe it was the nostalgia of coming home after school and sitting in front of the television to digest the anime show and whatever snack mom had put together that day. Maybe nerds will just be nerds. Either way, it proves that Bape is still doing what many of the most successful streetwear brands—Supreme, Stussy, and The Hundreds—are able to do: pinpoint and collaborate with things that deeply resonate with its audience. The collection didn’t do anything revolutionary by pairing Baby Milo with Dragon Ball characters, but it created something clearly beloved—and that can be equally important. —Cameron Wolf
Palace x adidas
Palace is far from a newcomer in the game, but the London-based skateboarding brand has cemented its place as one of the top streetwear brands in 2016. While it has shown that it is more than capable of making noise as a standalone name, Palace has also managed to collab with the right brands at the right time, for a winning track record. With its European roots and heavy soccer influence, linking up with adidas was a collab fans were happy to see happen again. As if the addition of new Boost sneakers wasn’t enough, Palace and adidas went full roadman with a series of tracksuits, windbreakers, and hats, proving that a great combination can even sell out outerwear with summer just weeks away. —Marco H. Negrete
Opening Ceremony x Vans
All-monochromatic-everything has definitely been a thing. Conveniently, we’ve started to see beyond just black occasionally, and Opening Ceremony and Vans Vault came together again to show us the way with their “Easter” pack. Following a late 2015 all-leather collab, they released their latest on Easter Sunday, a set of classic silhouettes in perfect pastels. The Sk8-Hi and Old Skools both came in a sherbert orange, sky blue, baby pink, and mint green down to the laces. No questions asked, the “Easter” pack was the best of the bunch in this first half of the year, especially coming on the heels of Vans 50th Anniversary celebration. —Rae Witte
Supreme x Stone Island
One of the most admirable things about Supreme is its willingness to work with brands to create pieces that don’t add all that much at first glance, but make a world of difference when it comes to the details. Working with Stone Island doesn’t create the same sort of hype a collab with, say, Nike would, but the Italian fabric maestros open Supreme up to technical fabrics, higher-quality materials, and innovations beyond the New York-based brand’s usual wheelhouse. Case in point is this March’s collab with Stone Island, which included a reflective sweater, Heat Reactive trench coats, hats, and jackets, and its special Nylon Metal fabric. It’s collabs like this that continue to propel Supreme forward, even after two decades of dominance. —Cameron Wolf
Justin Bieber x FEAR OF GOD
It seems like the Biebs changes his style up as much as his hair these days, but he might have found a look worth keeping with his recent FEAR OF GOD wave. While Justin Bieber and Jerry Lorenzo’s camp wouldn’t have been the best fit a few years ago, JB is all grown up now, and swapped out his traditional teenage popstar merch for a much darker “Purpose Tour” collection with FEAR OF GOD. The heavy metal-inspired aesthetic dominates the collection’s overall look, but Bieber didn’t forget about his target audience, and thoughtfully featured a healthy amount of his face across several items. Additionally, the merch features popular song titles and lyrics from his Purpose album, like “Sorry,” “Mark my words,” and “My mama don’t like you.” We know by now that people will buy just about anything he puts out; the sold out styles and massive lines at his pop-up shops proved without a doubt that fans of all ages were willing to rock with Bieber’s darker look. —Marco H. Negrete
Gosha Rubchinskiy x Reebok
What do you get when you cross a British footwear brand with a Russian designer-of-the-moment? A sneaker collaboration that sells like a motherf*cker, apparently. The Gosha Rubchinskiy x Reebok Classic Phase One Pro didn’t reinvent the wheel when it dropped this winter, allowing Reebok’s tried and true silhouette to remain unchanged and adopting the simplest selection of colorways: black, white, and grey. The one bit of flair, the designer’s name in Cyrillic lettering across the heel, is pretty restrained as far as limited edition sneakers go, even if it is written in bright orange lettering. But, that’s more or less the point: When everyone already wants a piece of what Gosha’s got, he doesn’t need to resort to eye-popping gimmicks. Just that extra-long name is enough. —Steve Dool